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All four films from the popular 'Die Hard' franchise. In 'Die Hard' (1988) on Christmas Eve, New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) in Los Angeles, where she works. They are attending a party at Holly's high-rise office block when terrorists, led by the suave Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) break in, taking everyone hostage. McClane manages to evade capture, however, and sets out to rescue his wife and the other prisoners. It is not long before he is running barefoot over shattered glass in a sweaty vest, muttering 'Yippy kay aye' as he dispatches the baddies with bullets and a certain earthy wit. In 'Die Hard 2 - Die Harder' (1990), Los Angeles cop John McClane is set to meet up with wife Holly on Christmas Eve, this time at Dulles airport in Washington DC. However, when terrorists take over the airport in an attempt to rescue dictator Esperanza (Franco Nero) from his incoming flight, it is up to McClane to restore order and ensure that Holly's plane lands safely. Get that sweaty vest out, and put some shoes on this time. In 'Die Hard with a Vengeance' John McClane becomes involved in a twisted game of Simon Says when an evil terrorist (Jeremy Irons) sends him dashing all over the city in an effort to find a series of explosive devices. Teaming up with electrician Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), McClane soon discovers that the bombs are an elaborate ruse intended to provide cover for a billion dollar bank job. Finally, 'Die Hard 4.0' (2007) finds McClane routinely asked to bring in a computer hacker, Matt Farrell (Justin Long) for questioning. In transit, events overtake them as they witness a full-scale cyber attack on the country's infrastructure led by mystery attacker Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Oliphant), who plans to systematically shut down or destroy the nation's major networks over three days. With time running out, McClane and his hacker friend have to stop the mastermind before it's too late.
Now joined by a hit fourth instalment, the Die Hard Quadrilogy is, bluntly, an essential set for any self-respecting fan of action cinema.
The gold, of course, is the original Die Hard, a flat-out five star classic pretty much without equal. Introducing Bruce Willis John McClane as an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation, its littered with great lines, great characters, and genre-defining moments. Plus, in Alan Rickman, it has one of the finest cinematic villains of the past few decades.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder inevitably dilutes matters, this time switching the action to Washingtons Dulles International Airport. But with Willis and a good number of characters returning from the original, its a fun--if at times brutal--ride, that scores highly in the entertainment stakes.
Die Hard: With A Vengeance, the third film in the series, pretty much strips away the bulk of the supporting cast, and replaces them with the not-significant figure of Samuel L Jackson. It changes the dynamic of the film into a buddy-buddy movie, albeit a good one. And again, its a ride thats hard not to enjoy, with Jeremy Irons giving good measure as McClanes chief foe.
Finally, Die Hard 4.0 is a real surprise. Given the fact that it arrived over a decade after the third film, it finds Willis and relative newcomer Justin Long shouldering an entertaining, old fashioned action film, that papers over its occasional cracks by asking its lead actor to ramp things up a gear when necessary. And watching John McClane do what he does--even when any hint of reality is thrown out of the window near the end--is endlessly entertaining.
So while none of the sequels have matched the peerless original, the Die Hard Quadrilogy nonetheless delivers one classic, and three very enjoyable action movies. And you cant argue with that kind of hit rate. Always, always bet on McClane... --Simon Brew